Food insecurity persists in the central-south of the country even in the post-harvest period
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Rainfall: The emd of September was marked by erratic, extremely limited rainfall activity. Thus, in spite of the earlier than usual start of the rains (in May/June instead of June/July), there were frequent, long dry spells, with cumulative seasonal and annual rainfall totals well below figures for 2013 at the same time of year (80 percent of rainfall gauging stations show rainfall deficits) as well as the average (Figure 1).
Cropping conditions: The size of the area planted in crops in all rainfed farming areas in the southern part of the country was down from last year and below-average. In addition, the light end-of-season rains could hinder crop growth and development. Only the Rainfed Cultivation Zone and southern reaches of the Agropastoral Zone are expected to produce as much as two thirds of an average harvest of rainfed cereal crops after the long lag in the planting of short-cycle crops, which will be harvested in early October (instead of late September, which is the regular harvesting period), and late-season crops which, with the cool temperatures associated with the cold season, will not be harvested until January/February, one to two months late.
Water levels in lowland areas, which are particularly extensive in the central and northern reaches of the Agropastoral Zone, vary widely from one livelihood zone to another and even within the same livelihood zone. They are especially low compared with the average in the Senegal River Valley and Agropastoral Zone in the south-central reaches of the country, where there was a poor spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall. The situation in these areas is similar to the situation in rainfed farming areas, where cropping rates by local households were below-average.
Most walo areas (floodplain areas along the Senegal River and its tributaries and river bank areas), whose cultivation, on average, meets half the cereal needs of poor households in the Senegal River Valley and southwestern reaches of the Agropastoral Zone benefiting from these farming activities and provides three quarters of their seasonal farm income, are dry. These low-lying areas collecting runoff from the river and a number of streams could be farmed, but any such crops will face the same challenges (wandering animals, stalk borers, withering risks, etc.) as with in the Agropastoral Zone. There are still good prospects for the cultivation of irrigated main season crops on tracts of land relatively close in size to figures for 2013, which are making good progress and whose yields should match if not surpass the production figure for 2013, which set a ten-year record.
Locusts: The locust situation across the country is stable. However, farmers in all crop-growing areas were cautious of potential stalk borer pests and grain eating birds threats during the cropping season.
Pastoral conditions: There is a visible improvement in the level of grass cover all across the Agropastoral Zone. There are currently plentiful woody and grass pastures in the Rainfed Cultivation Zone and pasture resources in other pastoral areas should meet the needs of local livestock at least through the month of January. The large supply of surface water is limiting herd movements, though return migration by transhumant livestock has visibly slowed, with most herds still ensconced in seasonal grazing areas in the Rainfed Cultivation Zone and southern reaches of the Agropastoral Zone. For the time being, the use of animal feed is limited to the northwestern reaches of the Agropastoral Zone (to a few grazing enclaves in Moudjéria department in southern Tagant). An examination of animal health conditions shows no epizootic outbreaks anywhere in the country.
Average September prices for sheep in all parts of the country were up from figures for 2013 at the same time of year and from July of this year and above the five-year average, fueled by high domestic and foreign demand for the celebration of Tabaski (there were orders for 700,000 animals from Senegal). The largest reported price increase (53 percent) was on the Boghé market, a major source market for Senegal. Average prices for sheep in the Agropastoral Zone (on the Magta Lahjar market) were also up from July and from the same time last year and above the five-year average.
With the rising price of livestock, terms of trade are relatively better than they were in 2013. The expected recourse to wheat (the main substitute cereal available on local markets at competitive prices) by poor households should further improve coverage of household food needs in all parts of the country with the sole exception of the Rainfed Cultivation Zone, where the presence of Malian refugees, who are heavy consumers of wheat, is creating a high demand for this cereal crop.
Seasonal incomes: Poor households in all parts of the country with the exception of the western reaches of the Senegal River Valley (southern Trarza), where farming activities for the growing of irrigated main season crops helped local households earn near-average seasonal incomes, could find themselves with well-below-average levels of seasonal income in spite of the relatively stable average wage rates for day laborers due to the limited supply of work. The volume of earlier than usual short-term seasonal labor migration is still limited, with large numbers of workers employed in ongoing farming activities (for rainfed and irrigated crops) or waiting for the floodwaters to recede (in the Agropastoral Zone).
Markets and prices: Retail markets are still well-stocked with imported staple foodstuffs (rice, wheat, sugar, and oil), but prices are high, fueled by a heightened demand for imported cereals with the large shortfalls in coarse grain production in most rural areas. The sharp reduction in the use of wheat as animal feed with the improvement in pastoral conditions and distributions of free food assistance (in the form of wheat) have kept wheat prices in the Agropastoral Zone (on the Magta Lahjar market) relatively stable compared with figures for 2013 at the same time of year. On the other hand, wheat prices in areas with large shortfalls in rainfed crop production (in the Senegal River Valley and the Rainfed Cultivation Zone) are up sharply (by 40.35 percent on the Adel Bagrou market in the Rainfed Cultivation Zone and 11.11 percent on the Boghé market in the Senegal River Valley). They are also above the five-year (2009/2013) average, except in the Oasis Zone, where the large supply of locally grown rice has sharply reduced demand.
Though still below figures for 2013 at the same time of year, sorghum prices on the Magta Lahjar market monitored by FEWS NET are up sharply (by 43.75 percent), where there is a large demand for seeds for late-season rainfed crops. Cereal traders in the Senegal River Valley with stockpiled inventories which they had counted on selling as seeds are currently being forced to unload them for lack of buyers while, in the Rainfed Cultivation Zone, the usual unloading of crops by Malian farmers just before the harvest appears to have succeeded in increasing supplies, reversing the upward trend in prices.
The most likely nationwide food security scenario for the period from October 2014 through March 2015 is based on the following general assumptions:
- With the light rainfall activity and poor temporal distribution of rainfall affecting the progress of rainfed crops, rainfed cereal production is expected to fall well short of figures for 2013 and the average.
- Poor households will succeed in getting hold of needed supplies of seeds for the planting of floodplain areas in flood recession crops. However, the size of viable areas for the growing of flood recession crops (lowland, dam, and walo areas) will be well below-average in all parts of the country due to the low water levels in depression areas and the low level of the Senegal River. The premature recession of the floodwaters in the River Valley is limiting farming activities in river bank areas, which normally provide a food supply for poor households (maize, cowpeas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, okra, etc.) between November and February.
- Irrigated main season crop production will match if not surpass figures for 2013, but there will be little cold and hot off-season crop production with the currently low level of the Senegal River and its tributaries.
- Market garden production will be in line with irrigated crop production, with near-average yields between October and January but little to no output between February and March.
- Pastoral conditions in the Rainfed Cultivation Zone will meet the needs of local livestock between now and March, if not longer, but conditions in other livelihood zones will meet livestock needs only until January/February.
- Animal birthing rates will be below-average between October and March due to the mediocre condition of existing pastures, except in the Rainfed Cultivation Zone. However, there will be more than enough milk production to meet household consumption needs between October and December.
- Short-term seasonal labor migration should speed up after the end of November, but is not expected to produce any major spin-off effects due to the limited supply of work in both farming and urban areas. There will be less migration income throughout the outlook period due to the limited supply of farm work, the normal source of employment for over 70 percent of migrant workers.
- Poor households in most areas will have well-below-average incomes from farm labor throughout the outlook period. There will be average levels of wage income from pastoral activities between October and January, which will be scaled back between February and March by the premature departure of transhumant herds from most pastoral areas for the southern reaches of the Agropastoral Zone and the Rainfed Cultivation Zone.
Market behavior and price trends:
- There will be a regular flow of adequate market supplies to meet domestic consumption needs and for re-exports to Senegal, Mali, and the southern Maghreb region of North Africa.
- Cross-border trade in coarse grains will rebound as of October, though its volume and duration will be well-below-average with the expected shortfalls in cereal production in border areas of Senegal and certain parts of Mali. There will be a stable if not growing volume of re-exports of Asian rice from Senegal through December. There will be larger than average re-exports of imported foodstuffs (oil, sugar, wheat flour, noodles, etc.) to Mali, Senegal, and the southern Maghreb region in all border areas.
- Prices for imported foodstuffs and coarse grains will rise in-line with normal seasonal trends.
- There will be a larger than average decline in livestock prices in rural areas as of December due to the already ongoing herd thinning activities in these areas, as sedentary pastoralists continue to ramp up their sales of animals to get them through the long lean season, which is expected to get underway by January. Prices will stay high in urban areas, where retailers have entered into tacit agreements with importers to purchase animals at certain prices which cannot be adjusted downwards without risking a loss.
- Current assistance programs will remain operational through December. While government programs (village-level food security reserve programs (SAVS), government-subsidized shops (BS), outpatient therapeutic feeding centers (CRENAMs), and distributions of free food assistance) are likely to be extended through March, there is still some uncertainty with respect to the sustainability of the cash transfer, cash-for-work, and food-for-work programs currently operated by certain NGOs (Action Against Hunger, OXFAM, etc.)
Most likely food security outcomes
The improvement in pastoral conditions in most pastoral areas and the Rainfed Cultivation Zone, where pasture deficits were partially reversed by the rebound in rainfall activity in September, helped ease the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions in these areas during the lean season. Yields of rainfed cereal crops in the eastern reaches of the Agropastoral Zone and Rainfed Cultivation Zone, however low they may be compared with an average harvest, will propel poor households into a state of Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through at least the end of March.
Poor households in the central reaches of the Senegal River Valley and northern reaches of the Agropastoral Zone still dependent on local markets for their food supplies for lack of seasonal rainfed crop production are having difficulty maintaining regular, adequate food access. The limited demand for farm labor has reduced their income, while prices for many staple foodstuffs (sorghum, locally grown rice, oil, etc.) are rising. Thus, these households are still Stressed (IPC Phase 2), even during the current post-harvest period, and could be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions between February and March 2015. There is also a strong presumption of the creation of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions in pastoral, oasis, and wadi areas by February, where severe rainfall deficits are endangering market garden crops (grown between November and February) and threatening farming activities in grara (depression), lowland, and dam areas (between October and March), which are the main source of cereal supplies for poor households.
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About Scenario Development
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.